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Ivory Coast negotiations to continue as Laurent Gbagbo clings to power

West African leaders delivered ultimatum to Gbagbo at yesterday’s meeting, but say further talks are necessary for breaking political deadlock.

Cape Verde President Pedro Pires, left, walks with Ivory Coast Prime Minister Ake N'gbo on arrival at the airport in Abidjan, yesterday.
Cape Verde President Pedro Pires, left, walks with Ivory Coast Prime Minister Ake N'gbo on arrival at the airport in Abidjan, yesterday.
Image: AP Photo/Sunday Alamba

WEST AFRICAN LEADERS have left Ivory Coast after delivering an ultimatum to Laurent Gbagbo: cede power or be removed by force.

Gbagbo controversially claimed victory following the recent general election, and was sworn into office.

The country’s Constitutional Commission said Gbagbo, the incumbent, won the election, despite the UN-backed electoral committee saying provisional results suggested his rival Alassane Ouattara had received 54% of the vote.

The African Union and the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS) have become involved in negotiations with Gbagbo amid fears escalating post-election tensions will spiral into civil war.

The three West African leaders – Benin’s Thomas Boni Yayi, Sierra Leone’s Ernest Bai Koroma and Cape Verde’s Pedro Pires – met with Gbagbo yesterday and said further talks are required, according to Reuters. Follow-up talks are expected to take place on 2 January.

Before the meeting, Gbagbo’s government said it welcomed the talks but said it would not tolerate any interference in its affairs, Al Jazeera reports.

IRIN reports that the political deadlock has sparked a food price hike, with the cost of some food such as sugar or cooking oil doubling on their pre-election price. Ouattara has called on traders to engage in a nationwide strike to force Gbagbo to back down, but people told IRIN they cannot afford to stop working.

Ouattara and his government are being protected at the Golf Hotel in Abidjan by a group of several hundred UN peacekeeping troops.

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